The time it takes to refinance a mortgage depends on a number of moving parts, such as credit checks, appraisals and your lender. This process can take about 45 days to as few as 15 days.
Steps to refinancing a mortgage
Traditional brick-and-mortar banks tend to have a longer timeline for underwriting refinances than fintech lenders, who use automation to speed up the process.
Thanks to technology, the whole process is getting more streamlined. By introducing digital signatures and even eliminating the need to upload documents (instead some lenders let you connect your accounts to their system, allowing them to pull the information they need), borrowers can close on a refinance much faster than they used to, says John Sweeney, head of wealth and asset management at Figure Technologies.
Eliminating in-person meetings is another significant time saver, Sweeney points out:
“This includes in-person signing, in-person notaries, and in-person appraisals. There are times and jurisdictions where these cannot be eliminated — for example, mortgages require in-person appraisals, but e-signing and e-notaries are substantially more convenient and actually safer than the physical equivalent.”
For now, borrowers who go with a traditional bank can expect closing to take between 20 and 45 days. Some online banks and fintech lenders can shave off as many as 15 days from the closing.
What questions are on a mortgage refinance application?
Applying for a mortgage refinance is just like applying for a new loan. The lender will verify your income and employment information as well as check your credit score and (usually) request a home appraisal.
“If your credit isn’t as good as when you first applied for your mortgage, you may not get a better rate in refinancing,” says Earl Knecht, vice president and CFO at Napa Valley Wealth Management. “If your income has changed, you might not qualify. This happens often with retirees.”
So, before you begin the refinance process, make sure your credit score and debt levels are in the optimum range to qualify for the best rate possible. Fine-tuning your credit profile can add a couple months or more to your timeline, but it’s worth it if you want to maximize your savings.
Standard refinance application requirements
The more prepared you are, the quicker the process will go. That means getting your paperwork in order.
Consider that you might have to request copies of these documents, such as your tax returns or pay stubs, which might take the IRS, your accountant, bank or employer time to retrieve and then send to you. Make sure you factor this step into your timeline, if you don’t already have these documents on hand.
5 standard refinance application requirements:
- Pay stubs
- Credit report
- Tax returns
- Debt statement
- Asset statement
A home appraisal is required for many refinance applications. Appraisals can cost as little as $300 and go up from there, exceeding $800, depending on where you live and the scope of the property.
If your home has been appraised within the last 120 days, your lender might not require a new appraisal. This will save you both time and money.
Since getting an appraisal will add to your refinance timeline, make sure you schedule one as soon as you apply for a refinance to hasten the process.
Finally, if rates have dropped, you may want to lock in your rate for your refinance. Rate locks guarantee a specific interest rate for a set period of time. You’ll want to make sure you close on your loan before the lock expires, so you get the rate you were after.